Home » Intelligent Design » Are challenges to Darwinian theory from those outside the discipline legitimate?

Are challenges to Darwinian theory from those outside the discipline legitimate?

I would argue that, indeed, they are.

In a previous UD thread, Tom English made the following comment:

I have seen a number of brilliant and highly educated people do abysmally stupid things when they stepped outside their domains of expertise. Computer scientists make abysmal biologists. Journalists make abysmal biologists. Philosophers make abysmal biologists. Theologians make abysmal biologists. Mathematicians make abysmal biologists. Physicists make abysmal biologists.

I would argue the following: Darwinian theorists do foolish things when they step outside their domain of expertise. They are generally not competent mathematicians, computer scientists, chemists, philosophers, theologians, or physicists. Yet, they make sweeping claims of incontrovertible fact that impinge upon all these disciplines, and then expect immunity from challenges from those with expertise in those disciplines.

The essentials of Darwinian theory are actually quite trivial and easy to understand. But are they true, and do they hold up under scrutiny from those with expertise in the disciplines upon which the theory impinges?

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71 Responses to Are challenges to Darwinian theory from those outside the discipline legitimate?

  1. They are generally not competent mathematicians, computer scientists, chemists, philosophers, theologians, or physicists. Yet, they make sweeping claims of incontrovertible fact that impinge upon all these disciplines, and then expect immunity from challenges from those with expertise in those disciplines.

    This is true. However Darwinists welcome arguments by non-biologists all the time. But only if it supports their theory. If it doesn’t support their theory, then those are considered ‘abysmally stupid’ arguments made by non-biologists.

  2. According to Tom English’s thesis, all those who read “The Origin of the Species” should have disqualified themselves as understanding it. Nearly all the 6,000 copies in the first year were bought by lay people and most of the readers up to today are probably non biologists. Should they all admit they are not capable of following Darwin’s logic. Are students to be told that they will not be able to judge the merits of neo-Darwinian theory when they are taught biology in high school or college?

    Isn’t it possible for a person of average intelligence to read what someone claims and then read what has actually been established and make a judgment? English makes a sophist argument and the fact that he resorts to it indicates the basis for what he supports is probably specious. If the argument was so air tight, I would think a lay person would understand it let alone a mathematician, physicist or a computer scientist.

  3. I’m sorry. What are the “sweeping claims of incontrovertible fact” that biologists use to impinge on chemistry, physics, mathematics, philosophy, theology, and computer science? I just don’t see it.

  4. “I have seen a number of brilliant and highly educated people do abysmally stupid things when they stepped outside their domains of expertise. Computer scientists make abysmal biologists. Journalists make abysmal biologists. Philosophers make abysmal biologists. Theologians make abysmal biologists. Mathematicians make abysmal biologists. Physicists make abysmal biologists.”

    I say just agree with him and remind him that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Biologists should not be making claims about the work of engineers, mathematicians, etc.

    When they complain about the use of the word design, or a design based approach to some sort of molecular chemistry, call foul and say they are not qualified to comment on things outside of thier discipline. Remind them that this is there ground rule and that if they want to ignore it they cannot legitimately complain when others do. Then let them choose what they want to do.

    Either the biolgists will relent or their discipline will continue to sink into irrelevance.

  5. I agree that Tom’s statement was too sweeping, and that being trained in another field does not automatically make one an “abysmal” biologist. Anyone who takes the time to learn the material and is capable of making rational arguments is qualified to comment on any field, though a little humility is in order. For example, if you find yourself disagreeing with 99.9% of professional biologists after studying the field for a few weeks, it pays to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken.

    But in Tom’s defense, if you go to the thread from which his comment was taken, you’ll see that he was reacting to Denyse’s mention of the Discovery Institute’s “Dissent from Darwinism” list. In that context, his objection makes a certain amount of sense. All we know about most of the folks who have signed the list is that they have credentials in a non-biological field. We know nothing about the amount of time they have spent studying evolutionary theory, or of the soundness of the arguments they might advance against it. In that context, their opinions carry less weight than those who are practicing biologists.

  6. Tom English’s comment is rather strange given that one of the leading voices of Darwinism says

    “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”

    If anyone can understand it, then anyone can criticize it. If it is so obviously clear, then those who disagree with it can’t be against it due to lack of understanding. Why? Because Darwinism is so obvious.

    Adding to that, following Dr Phil Johnson’s words, since every single major Darwinian preacher wrote to the *general public*, why can’t someone from the *general public* voice it’s lack of reason to believe in it?

    I have to say that Tom’s comment is more like “You are not qualified to speak about it. Let us, the holy Darwinian scientists, tell you what to believe. Oh, and if you don’t believe in what we say, then you are ignorant!!”

    Thirdly, what about when Darwinists (like Julian Huxley) makes theological claims based on his particular worldview? For example, when he says “The world was not created; it evolved”, isn’t he “outside” of his “domains of expertise”? When Darwinist Eugenie Scott says that you can be a Christian and be a Darwinists, isn’t she stepping outside of her area?

    What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  7. Let’s make it explicit in this thread that, before writing what you quoted, I wrote, “I am a computer scientist who, despite working in evolutionary computation for 15 years and despite learning quite a bit about evolutionary biology along the way, counts himself incompetent to pronounce on the work that life scientists are doing.” The first class of people I said made abysmal biologists included myself.

    “I would argue the following: Darwinian theorists do foolish things when they step outside their domain of expertise. They are generally not competent mathematicians, computer scientists, chemists, philosophers, theologians, or physicists.”

    And biologists should have their foolishness pointed out to them when they step outside their area of expertise. For example, I will say now that Richard Dawkins’ intertwining of evolutionary biology and his impoverished philosophy is disgusting.

    “Yet, they make sweeping claims of incontrovertible fact that impinge upon all these disciplines, and then expect immunity from challenges from those with expertise in those disciplines.”

    I strongly doubt there are many “sweeping claims of incontrovertible fact” in the peer-reviewed biological literature. Everyone learns in science class that there are no incontrovertible scientific facts. Indeed, one thing that disturbs scientists and others about the explanatory filter is the claim of “no false positives” — i.e., incontrovertible facts.

    I never suggested that researchers and scholars in disciplines other than biology should not challenge biological findings. I indicated that people who are not reading the biological literature for themselves would do well to listen to the biologists rather than non-biologists. The non-biologists should challenge the biologists in the peer-reviewed literature, not present themselves as “better at biology than biologists are” in the public arena.

    As an example of why one shouldn’t listen to an expert pronouncing outside his discipline, consider the chemist Linus Pauling. After winning his second Nobel prize, he turned his attention to nutrition and medicine. He originated the notion that vitamin C is good for colds and for cancer. People have actually taken megadoses of vitamin C in lieu of conventional cancer therapy. Controlled studies have shown that vitamin C is good for neither malady, but sales of the vitamin continue at very high levels in the U.S. In short, a brilliant man can go where he should not and do harm to society.

    “The essentials of Darwinian theory are actually quite trivial and easy to understand.”

    There is a huge difference between basics and essentials. The basics are easy to grasp. The essentials take a great deal of study.

    “But are they true, and do they hold up under scrutiny from those with expertise in the disciplines upon which the theory impinges?”

    What you advocate is to set up a “straw man” theory and then find as many people as you can to knock it over. But you can’t falsify a theory just by taking its basics into account. See the entry for “falsification” in Wikipedia.

    Why are you so set on bringing a slew of other disciplines into biology? Does it work that way in physics? Of course it does not. The physicists would not put up with it for a moment. I cannot help but think that you, standing on the outside of biology, have decided that biologists are not doing their work right, and that people from other disciplines can do biology better.

  8. 8

    I would point out that there are hundreds of engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians working in the biological scientists, and many of them work in issues directly related to evolutionary biology. A lot of them that I have met know a lot more about it than I do, but they agree that is only many years of working in the field, reading the literature and speaking to other scientists that has made them experts.

  9. “You are not qualified to speak about it. Let us, the holy Darwinian scientists, tell you what to believe. Oh, and if you don’t believe in what we say, then you are ignorant!!”

    No, science does not tell you what to believe. It tells you the beliefs of a community of authorities. If you believe that scientific theories could ever be true in the same sense your religious beliefs are true, then that is sad.

  10. Tom English:
    Why are you so set on bringing a slew of other disciplines into biology?

    Because that is warranted:

    Approaching Biology from a Different Angle:

    Systems biology is a loosely defined term, but the main idea is that biology is an information science, with genes a sort of digital code. Moreover, while much of molecular biology has involved studying a single gene or protein in depth, systems biology looks at the bigger picture, how all the genes and proteins interact. Ultimately the goal is to develop computer models that can predict the behavior of cells or organisms, much as Boeing can simulate how a plane will fly before it is built.

    But such a task requires biologists to team up with computer scientists, engineers, physicists and mathematicians. The structure of universities makes that difficult, Dr. Hood said.

    Science should be all about telling us the truth, ie the reality, behind our existence. And until any biologist can tell us what makes an organism what it is then I would say they need as much help/input as they can get.

  11. Darwinists need to come to grips with the fact that the future of science belongs to the Hard-Sciences: Mathematics, Physics, & Chemistry. The deeper we peer into life at the molecular level, the more we discover the complex programming which is driving it all, and the more we find a dizzying array of machinery which the NeoDarwinian synthesis fails to explain. Ask yourself: Why are biochemists employing phD\’s in mechanical engineering in order to try and understand cellular machinery? 

    As science moves forward and new data is collected, the more Darwinian Evolution looks like primitive Steamboat-era mysticism.

     

  12. 12

    As someone who often works with “hard scientists” studying cellular machinery, this idea that it is undermining evolution seems very bizzarre. Systems biology has been around for a long time and they are as “Darwinist” as everyone else.

  13. Darwinists might not understand P.B. Medawar’s statements in “The Limits of science” 1)”Why do so many scientists like to think, as Darwin certainly did, that that they proceed by induction.” or “an inductive generalization cannot contain more information than the sum of its known instances.” yet philosophers always will.

  14. Chris: By \”Darwinist\” I mean someone who believes that blind, non-teleological mechanisms are responsible for all biological systems. The problem is that said mechanisms cannot account for the specified information and machinery we observe at the cellular level. Which is why you have more and more people coming forward, Like Minnich and Behe and many others, who recognize this and aren\’t afraid to say it. I stand by the prediction that the more we delve into the code and machinery at the cellular level, the more irrelevant Darwinian explanations will become and the more engineering and programming applications will become relevant. We are already seeing this.

  15. Similarly, I’d venture to say philosophers and linguists experience a stronger “warm and fuzzy” feeling than Darwinists when reading Denton’s chapter on chance in “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.” (where Denton shows a random series of letters 10 to the 70th long is needed in order to get, by random chance, a 12 letter word like “reasonable” or “construction”)

  16. idadvisors: “Denton shows a random series of letters 10 to the 70th long is needed in order to get, by random chance, a 12 letter word like “reasonable” or ‘construction’)

    As there are only 26^12 ~ 10^17 possible combinations of twelve letters, every possible sequence of twelve letters would be repeated many times in a random sequence of length 10^70. Perhaps, you meant 10^17. But even this is incorrect when constructed as an evolutionary algorithm.

    A population of a few hundred words (by a process of letter-substitution and recombination, with non-words being ruthlessly deselected from the population) will quickly evolve to length-twelve. Certainly in far less than 10^17 mutations, much closer to 10^6 total mutations throughout the population. That would be billions of times faster than predicted.

    Word Mutagenation
    http://www.zachriel.com/mutagenation/

  17. 17

    “I stand by the prediction that the more we delve into the code and machinery at the cellular level, the more irrelevant Darwinian explanations will become and the more engineering and programming applications will become relevant. We are already seeing this.”

    Your talking like the two are mutually exclusive. The reason more engineers and computer scientists are working in biology is becuase many features of biological systems lend themselves to analysis by modified versions of similar applications that are used to analyses manmade systems, hence the fields of systems biology and bioinformatics. However the differences are just as important as the similarities, and these engineers and computer scientists have done as much as anyone else over the past few years to show how these differences are due to the systems having evolved.

    “where Denton shows a random series of letters 10 to the 70th long is needed in order to get, by random chance, a 12 letter word like “reasonable” or “construction””

    I haven’t read the book, so I would appriciate someone explaining to me why this is relevent to evolution.

  18. I really think Darwinists need to take a few courses in logic and the philosophy of science. An engineering course wouldn’t hurt either. Maybe then, we’ll see those silly arguments like “underproductive organs” disappear.

  19. The question I would have is, what make biology so special. There are plenty of mathematicians who step into the world of Computer Science. Computer scientists who can work as fair mathematcians. Philosophers who produce decent work in Theology and Theologians who produce decent work in philosophy. I find that almost every field has some type of relation with other fields. Now such men who work in fields outside of their training may make mistakes, but I find they are rarely idiotic in those fields. I’m sure that there are those who are trained in other disciplines who make large mistakes out of their own domain of study, but it doesn’t always make it the case.

    The claim that biology is a field all to itself, in which only biologists can produce good work in that field is outrageous. If there was no overlapping in fields, there would be no biochemistry or bioengineering.

    On a side note, I would find it more interesting that biology would be a special field. All sciences were developped out of the field of “philosophy”. (I use the term in the sense of the Greek philosophy like Aristotle’s.) The sheer fact that sciences have a common ancestor would mean that somehow they relate.

  20. Tom wrote:

    I cannot help but think that you, standing on the outside of biology, have decided that biologists are not doing their work right, and that people from other disciplines can do biology better.

    Regarding evolutionary biology, apparently even the evolutionary biologists sense they are perceived that way:
    In sceinces pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom.

    I personally think the other disciplines within biology are in pretty good shape, especially the one farthest away from evolutionary biology. Even A.S Wilkins indirectly commented that evolutionary biologists were considered “marginal” within biology. (see: Wilkins responds to Witt,

    Salvador

  21. Chris,

    Scott’s blog answer’s your question why randomness is relevent to Darwinian evolutionary theory–”The problem is that said mechanism cannot account for specified information and machinery we observe at the cellular level.” DDenton also says one will never construct an aerodynamically-feasable structure by using random components. Similarly, a shipyard cnc machinist will never mill out a functional propellor by entering random instructions into the control unit. Complex functioning structure contain information content–purposeful, specified instructions. Or as Leslie Orgel says “the information content of a structure is the minimum numbers of instructions needed to specify the structure.” This proposition has helped me immensely in understanding “types of structures” 1) random, like a book filled with a meaningless series(random) of letters, 2)ordered, a book filled with a repeating series such as “I like apples. I like apples….(highly specified yet LOW in information content-the instructions are few-Thaxton) and 3) complex, a novel where every letter is specified–highly specified and high level of information content)

  22. Complex structures(e.g., DNA molecule)

  23. Let’s face it biologists make abismal biologists. I’m not just wildly knocking the science. I’m only expressing the reality of where this science is. It is in its infancy. Biologists may have been carefully studying biology for centuries, but what they don’t know is astounding:

    - Biologists don’t know what the basic function of over half of the “essential” genes in the simplest form of life do.

    - Biologists know little about what precambrian life was like.

    - Biologists can’t show a clear and established pattern of development for any complex system.

    - Biologists don’t know how a cell decides which segments of DNA to implement.

    - Biologists have been dismissing the majority of DNA as “junk”, only now beginning to find that they were in error.

    - Biologists have made recent and startling discoveries such as discovering that the eukaryota did not descend from the archaea. Ouch!

    The bottom line is that, though biologists have learned much about biology, they still haven’t mastered the basics. How they can be certain that the current theory is “fact” is beyond me.

  24. bfast,
    the current theory is a “fact” because Eldridge says if life evolved then we should see classification. So, the prediction(test???????) is to go out and see if this consequence exists. There is classification–but its not a mechanism.

  25. It’s interesting that Strangelove said: “I’m sorry. What are the ‘sweeping claims of incontrovertible fact’ that biologists use…?,” when the original comment was that “_Darwinian_ theorists… make sweeping claims.”

    Having said that, a good example that answers the question is the “Darwinism Today” series. Titles include: “The truth about Cinderella: A Darwinian view of Parental Love;” “Divided labors: An Evolutionary view of women at work;” “Mind the gap: Hierarchies, Health and Human Evolution;” and of course there’s “Warrior Lovers: Erotic Fiction, Evolution and Female Sexuality.” Darwin apparently has a lot to say about parenting, gender politics, and global demographics & economics. Were I that motivated, I could have dug up many more titles covering many more subjects.

    What’s interesting is that when social scientists like the “Darwinism Today” folks make truth claims based on extensions of Darwin’s idea and still remain in the camp of philosophical naturalism, the evolutionary biologists–while they may disagree with it–typically don’t say that they’re not _qualified_ to speak to the subject. It’s only when such non-expert/non-biologist/non-scientists actually have something critical to say that the Priesthood responds with the now-standard talking point: “Those people don’t know enough…” “He’s a ‘third-rate biologist’…” “He’s just a creationist in a cheap suit…” and other such ad-hominem blather.

    In the end, the issue has nothing to do with expertise; it has everything to do with whether one buys the Darwinist worldview.

    -sb

  26. 26

    “Scott’s blog answer’s your question why randomness is relevent to Darwinian evolutionary theory”

    I didn’t mean randomness, I meant that particular Denton calculation.

    “The claim that biology is a field all to itself, in which only biologists can produce good work in that field is outrageous.”

    People trained in other disciplines can produce good work in the field of biology, but they are generally people who work in the field of biology.

    “Similarly, a shipyard cnc machinist will never mill out a functional propellor by entering random instructions into the control unit.”

    That’s a straw man argument.

  27. No, science does not tell you what to believe. It tells you the beliefs of a community of authorities.

    True, science does tell us what to believe only the Darwinian scientists dictate what we need to believe. Some people still don’t get it, ID is not against science contrary to Darwinian propaganda; ID is just against the Darwinian dogma. Who gets membership into this community of authorities? That would be those who accept the fact of Darwinian evolution of course, silly.

    So if you are Galileo and you suggest that the earth circles the sun, but the “community of authorities” said no you are ignorant Galileo, the sun revolves around the earth. We all know that a minority voice can’t be right. We need to humbly accept the proclamation of the “community of authorities”.

  28. 28

    Tom English:
    Why are you so set on bringing a slew of other disciplines into biology?

    Commentary from other disciplins is neccassary as biology is ultimately dependent on the laws established from the more fundamental sciences, which provide the underpinnings for the development of organisms. Just as physics is advanced through discoveries in mathematics, chemistry through discoveries in physics so should biology be advanced through discoveries in the more fundamental sciences on which it depends.

    As far as commentary from the applied sciences, such as engineering and computer sciences, is appliccable or useful to biology that remains to be seen and likely will depend on the true origin of the universe. However, there are enough parallels between applied sciences and biology that I hardly think any possible contributions should be dimissed out of hand. Unless theories developed from applied sciences are tested and persued we will never have an honest answer to whether or not they can provide a fruitful line of inquirey- let them stand or fall on the strength of the evidence just like any other theories.

    I am ‘on the fence’ as far as ID is concerned and am willing to keep an open mind regarding alternate explanations for the development of organisms. I am putting together a lecture on ID- “just the facts m’am”: Intelligent Design- What it is and What it isn’t. Any help on ID basic principles, operational definitions, current research and arguments/counter arguments would be appreciated. Thanks.

  29. Chris, for the sake of argument I’ll remove the machine operator from the proposition and claim “I believe I can produce a working propellor by programming a cnc gantry mill with random, purposeless instructions.”

  30. Noone would hire me.

  31. Zachriel, I stand corrected and recant. Proving that those who have only acheived the baccalaureate are referred to(laughing) by philosophers with PhD’s as “philosophically-trained laymen.” Its an excellent phrase. And the smart ones are referred to as the “headnodders” during difficult lectures.

  32. 33

    “I believe I can produce a working propellor by programming a cnc gantry mill with random, purposeless instructions.”

    Well if you have millions of mills etc etc, randomness is only a component of evolution.

  33. The reason “non-biologists” are the ones criticizing Darwinism is because “Only Darwinists Need Apply” when it comes to graduate school and grants.

    The reason “non-biologists” criticize Darwinsim is that the so-called “answers” Darwinists give are, literally, unbelievable.

    One simple example: the Cambrian Explosion. If you read “The Origins” and then ask yourself the question: what is that last thing that Darwins expects to see as the fossil record is better and better searched? The answer is, “The Cambrian Explosion.” It’s obvious. And! Darwin says this would severely compromise his theory. Yet, the Darwinists march on and on. Bottom line: evolutionary biologists can do real science because they’re blinded by Darwinian prejudice. And others have decided to help them out a little bit. What’s wrong with that?

  34. BTW: as to what Denton said:

    pp.309-310: “Twelve letter words such as “construction” or “unreasonable” are so rare that they occur only once by chance in strings of letters 10^14 units long; as there are about 10^14 minutes in one thousand million (i.e., a billion) years one can imagine how long a monkey at a typewriter would take to type out by chance one English world twelve letters long.”

  35. “I believe I can produce a working propellor by programming a cnc gantry mill with random, purposeless instructions.”

    I don’t think this description of random, purposeless instructions in programming a cnc gantry mill is a fair representation of evolutionary processes. There is no model of evolution consists in which an assembly of random instructions of arbitray length is executed in a single step. A better description of the process is a sequence of cycles where an existing string of instructions is randomly modified in one more more places (“random mutations”), the program is executed and then followed by an evaluation of whether the instructions were useful (“natural selection”). There are plenty of genetic modeling algorithms/programs (not necessarily for making a propeller) that demonstrate that is it possible to achieve preset goals.

    Of course, this may not be a totally fair representation, either, since I have biased the system towards producing a propeller (or whatever I have selected for). If I assume strict randomness and have a broader selection criterion, such as “something that helps me propell the boat”, there is also a chance that I end up with a gadget that will not look or function like a propeller.

  36. Correction to #32: “Bottom line: the reasons evolutionary biologists CAN’T do ……”

  37. 38

    “one can imagine how long a monkey at a typewriter would take to type out by chance one English world twelve letters long.” Right but Im trying to figure out how this applies to evolution, which isn’t analogous to a monkey with a typewriter.

  38. BTW,
    Thanks. The 14th.

  39. Re #3: “What are the ‘sweeping claims of incontrovertible fact’ that biologists use to impinge on chemistry, physics, mathematics, philosophy, theology, and computer science?”

    We are consistently reassured that Darwinian evolution is a fact. Random mutation and natural selection are declared to have been proven to account for biological complexity, innovation, information content and functional integration. This impinges upon chemistry and molecular biology. (Can it be verified that there really are specific mutations that can account for or engineer a particular biochemical system under investigation?) And it impinges upon mathematics. (What are the probabilities that these mutations, once demonstrated to exist, can actually arise, given the available probabilistic resources?)

    The computer program Avida was declared to have refuted Behe’s irreducible complexity challenge. Note that this was presented as a fact, and not a possible indication that RM+NS might account for IC. This obviously impinges upon the discipline of computer science. Is Avida a valid model of biological processes? Was information supplied by the programmers that would not be available in nature?

    There are countless claims in the Darwinian literature to the effect that “evolution” has proven that we are the product of an unguided, purposeless process that did not have us in mind, and that it is indifferent to our existence. (There are a number of variations on this theme.) Once again, this is frequently presented as fact, and not speculation or conjecture. This obviously impinges upon the disciplines of philosophy and theology.

    These are just a few brief examples. I’m sure we could compile a long list. That might make for an interesting exercise.

  40. Ofro,

    Yes. Yet how does the random event achieve the goal, namely, produce a sructure, which produces the effect of propulsion (e.g., rotary flag. motor). By Dawkin’s it blind also. A bicycle is not transportation (subtle area in Aristotle’s 4 causes) It produces transportaion when I use it. The wing of a plane or bird is not lift or flight. It produces flight.

    A statue. Which one of Aristotle’s causes, is ‘the’ statue. Mechanistic explanations or causes(physical) produce, give rise to functions, intended objects of desire (thought). Build a bike THAT pruduces transportation. Doing X for the sake of attaining Y, the goal.

  41. How do the subcomponents(stator, rotor, etc.) of Behe’s rotary motor come into being? In and of themselves they are not propulsion–they produce it.

  42. Sorry, I meant thanks to PaV.

  43. Aristotle’s statue of Aphrodite is not decoration, since it produces decoration. The statue is made for that sake of decoration, the formal cause, or what it is to be.

  44. 45
    John A. Davison

    Chance never had anything to do with either ontogeny or phylogeny. The problem has always been that of seeking a cause for either when such an identifiable cause never existed, not mutation, not narural selection, not sexual reproduction, not population genetics, not Mendelian genetics, which is all that population genetics is concerned with anyway. None of these ever had anything to do with the origin of either true species or any of the higher categories. You see they arose inexorably driven from within those relatively few life forms that were capable of leaving offspring drastically different from themselves. Those forms are no longer extant which explains why we cannot demonstrate evolution today.

    Leo Berg, in my estimation the most original thinking evolutionist of all time, speaking of ontogeny and phylogeny:

    “Neither in the one nor in the other is there room for chance.”
    Nomogenesis, page 134

    The Darwinian hoax has persisted because the vast majority of University Professors are left-leaning political liberals and moral and ethical relativists who are incapable for congenital reasons of accepting what is obvious to some of us, namely that there was a purpose in the universe and that purpose has been realized with the final production of rational minds some of whom recognize and accept that purpose. Others cannot which is why this idiotic debate continues. The truth cannot be debated. It can only be revealed. That is what science is all about.

    Gilbert and Sullivan anticipated this when Einstein was still a child:

    “Every boy and every girl,
    Who is born into the world alive,
    Is either a little liberal,
    Or else a little conservative.”
    Iolanthe

    Everything is determined… by forces over which we have no control.”
    Albert Einstein

    We are all victims. Some of us have been luckier than others.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  45. It’s quite true that the essentials of evolution are fairly easy to comprehend, but the devil is in the details. It takes a great deal of study in order to really understand the evidence, ramifications, and predictions that the theory makes. Biologists have generally been exposed to the finer and more complicated points about evolution as it has played out on our planet, while lay people generally are not.

    You might take an analogy from physics. Some lay people are still trying to invent perpetual motion machines, and physicists casually dismiss them–even going so far as to say that anyone who believes that such a thing is possible is not a real scientist. Then again, when lay people articulate the reasons why perpetual motion is impossible, Big Physics agrees with them (provided the reasons are not absurd).

  46. 47

    “It’s quite true that the essentials of evolution are fairly easy to comprehend, but the devil is in the details. It takes a great deal of study in order to really understand the evidence, ramifications, and predictions that the theory makes. Biologists have generally been exposed to the finer and more complicated points about evolution as it has played out on our planet, while lay people generally are not.”

    Ah, yes. Details like “by some fortuitous mutation, protein X was co-opted and added to system Y, which was preserved because some unknown selective pressure (though there is no shortage of amusing guesses) was addressed by this new unknown function. Finally after Z years, and perhaps many more fortuitous additions to system Y via similar means resulting in yet more unknown reproductive advantages, viola, this lucky organism ended up possessing the most efficient machine in the universe.”

    Pardon my skepticism (and sarcasm), but when the grand claims of materialistic theories are scrutinized, their lack of detail seems to be notable.

  47. Fantastic claims demand fantastic evidence.

  48. “It’s quite true that the essentials of evolution are fairly easy to comprehend, but the devil is in the details. It takes a great deal of study in order to really understand the evidence, ramifications, and predictions that the theory makes. Biologists have generally been exposed to the finer and more complicated points about evolution as it has played out on our planet, while lay people generally are not.”
    This sounds a lot like a cult to me. Only the “in-crowd” has the answers which is too great for anyone on the outside able to comprehend.

  49. Smidlee:

    This sounds a lot like a cult to me. Only the “in-crowd” has the answers which is too great for anyone on the outside able to comprehend.

    And lets not forget just how many of the basics biologists don’t know, as per comment #23.

  50. “I cannot help but think that you, standing on the outside of biology, have decided that biologists are not doing their work right, and that people from other disciplines can do biology better.”

    Sometimes “outsiders” have a better perspective on the job “insiders” are doing than the insiders themselves. And you can often know an expert is “not doing his work right” without being able to do the work better yourself.

  51. Ohhhh gosh, please let me speak for the great uneducated masses of the world, the lay person :)

    “Then again, when lay people articulate the reasons why perpetual motion is impossible, Big Physics agrees with them (provided the reasons are not absurd).”

    A Study by the Lay People International Forum on Understanding Science Alternatives.

    Scientific Proof of Concept in Lab Testing:

    Lab Experiments, # of Test, Results
    —————————————-
    Perpetual MM, 1000s, 0
    MacroEvolution, 10,000s, 0
    ID GMOs, 1000s, 1000s

    Conclusion: After tens of thousands of test. Perpetual Motion Machines and MacroEvolution have produced Zero results.

    Some Good News however, Intelligent Design is utilized to modify living organisms, or GMOs and has been both clinically tested and approved, acceptable within the guildlines of governmental regulations and applied commercially for reproduction all over the world.

    The LayPerson Initiative therefore squeemishly suggest that we go with Intelligent Design for the future of mankind to develop better food crops, farm animal production increases, design better medicines and cures for diseases. We think that waiting on Random Mutations over long periods of time to reproduce similar outcomes “might” be dangerous to our future. While we respect all the experts, we humbly question how long we must wait for corn crops to build resistence to pest without intelligently design modifications.

    Also, to wait another billions of years to find cures to new disease lead to our extinction over time.

    Although expert scientist tell us evolution solves all our problems, we must insist there is not enough time to wait a billion years for cancer to be cured by Random Mutations. In fact, research has shown that mutations cause cancer. We do not understand the intimate details of why mutations cause cancer, but we know it does, so we think we should try alternatives like intelligently designed medicine to cure these nasty mutations. We exhort our comrades in science to use intelligence to overcome these random mutations. We understand evolution is quite complex and therefore beyond our simple minded comprehension skill sets. But if we refuse to understand how cancer works and just allow Random Mutations and Natural Selection to cure all our problems in the future, many will die. We hope this study and announcement can bring consensus to the world of lay people. And that together we can seek out our scientific experts to not wait upon evolution to solve our problems.

    So, we can only offer what must be seen as a radical position. We want intelligent people to make intelligent inquiry into cell life to determine if somehow they can modify and manipulate them by computational processes, along with the use of math, physics and other suitable fields of study to improve our chances of survival so we may live happier, more prosperous lives in the future. We realize this may go against PETA and other evolution supporters who believe a lizard holds the same value as a human life form. And while this is risky thought, we hope as lay people to be justified in the end. Even though that is we do not know what Differential Equations and Apoptosis could possibly have in common, we ask our experts who know more than us to try.

    We realize Intelligent Design can only take us so far! That we may indeed have to wait another billion years before cancer is replaced by a random gene expression conserved by natural selection which can combat this evil scourge! Already though we are encouraged that evolutionary scientist are in fact using computers and math to fight this battle!

    If we must wait upon evolution however, may we all pray together, since we know that evolution and faith can work together as told us by the experts from NSCE, that evolution will speed up.

    Lord, please speed up evolutionary processes, so all diseases can be healed by random mutations and natural selection! Amen and amen….

    ps. Oh and Lord, if you don’t mind while evolution begins to speed up and we pray with evolution scientist, we’re going to ask our other scientist to Intelligently Design new drugs just in case evolution takes to long. Is that OK Lord?

    The Lord Speaks: Oyyy Vey! Did I give you two hands and ten fingers to stick them in your ears, cover your eyes and mouth like a bunch of chimps? Create – Create! You’re made in my image…. to love, to sing, to dance, to explore, to rise above all obstacles, to persevere when all is seemingly against you.

    If you wait a billion years for evolution to increase information, don’t call on me, I’ll be watching Seinfeld reruns and reading Superman comic books, waiting on you to create.

  52. per comment #23

    Rubbish. The pace at which biological understanding has grown since the turn of the last century is quite staggering. If you were in the business of having to keep up with ongoing advances, this would be painfully clear to you. While the extent of what we don’t know is indeed daunting, yet the very fact that we even have a remote grasp of what it *is* that we don’t know is a tribute to the success of the biological sciences. The problem is that the organismal “innerspace” is the most complex and intricate system we have been confronted with. We are teasing apart and reverse-engineering a hideously complex system that has been constructed over eons through the endless tinkering of a very determined idiot. There are no manuals or other design specs to be found; just our knowledge of a vague operational imperative for these systems to persist and reproduce themselves. The resulting product, when you get down to the the nuts and bolts biochemistry, makes for very poor organizational flow-charts. It’s a big gelatinous massively parallel mess, and the tools we have to work with are about as appropriate for the task as boxing gloves are for fixing swiss watches. The progress that has been made is quite amazing, all things considered. All you hard science types are welcome to join in the cause. Be aware that quite a few already have. (The boundaries between disciplines have been blurring for decades now.) Just be prepared to immerse yourself in a sea of new information in order to get up to speed with the project. And I predict that the more you get up to speed on the system, the less confident you’ll feel that your particular analytical toolset is going to incite a biological renaissance. But that’s just my speculation; you’re welcome to see for yourself.

  53. “This sounds a lot like a cult to me. Only the ‘in-crowd’ has the answers which is too great for anyone on the outside able to comprehend.”

    All I’m saying is that outsiders are not equipped (per se) to challenge evolutionary theory and the evidence therefore. It’s the same thing when teenagers challenge parts of the bible that they don’t understand and claim that they’ve disproven the whole book.

  54. I agree with the general tenet of this discussion string that the insight of an “outsider” can bring in a new perspective to a field of science. Biology can greatly benefit from chemists, physicists, engineers and mathematicians. However, it has been my experience over and over that much of a newcomer scientist’s inputs into biology can be amazingly naïve. I would expect the newcomer to do his homework and read up on the many reviews that are readily available in the literature, or at least closely consult/collaborate with an “insider” about the general feasibility of his ideas. Unfortunately, I have sensed a similar lack of background in too many comments in this forum, and I attribute at least some of the sarcasm I read here to such a lack of proper information.

    Let us be more specific and deal with the Big Topic of the evolution of species. I am in absolute awe of the many different mechanisms that have been discovered in nature, by which a genome can be modified. Biologists may be collectively referring to them as “random mutations”, and unfortunately the less-well read public/pundit probably thinks only of changing the DNA sequence in one spot. It is very understandable that this thinking will not get you beyond the notion of microevolution. Few non-biologists know that changes can occur on a much greater scale up to where whole segments of a chromosome can be lost, duplicated, turned around or swapped. They have probably never heard about transposable elements that help move segments of DNA around in the genome, or the modularity of an exon that, when swapped into another gene, gives rise to a new module within the encoded protein and thus new functionality in a single step. I wish that the ID proponents looked more closely at the marvel of evolutionary mechanisms. If they come away as seeing more design in all of that, so be it. I won’t fight this recognition since they have gone one step closer to an understanding of evolutionary processes. Perhaps one or the other will also recognize that evolutionary mechanisms are, at least theoretically, capable of creating new features in an organism and that there is no need to design each new phylum/order/species separately. The further design can be mechanistically pushed backwards in time, the closer the proponents of ID and RM&NS will come to agree with each other.

  55. ofro: I think most IDers are aware of the many marvelous mechanisms for mutations! In fact, saltational changes have frequently discussed at different threads. What the disagreement is about is whether all of the proper changes necessary for the development of complex life can occur without intelligence, and result from purposeless, undirected random processes.

  56. Comrade: “It takes a great deal of study in order to really understand the evidence, ramifications, and predictions that the theory makes.”

    Does it take study? Or indoctrination? Are these two the same? Isn’t that really the question?

    ‘Cooption’, ‘exaptation’: what are these words except words invented for the sole purpose of getting around certain problems that Darwinian theory has in explaining newly discovered phenomena? It’s just like all the convolutions of Ptolomeic theory prior to the so-called ‘Copernican Revolution’. There’s an absolute reliance on Fisherian statistics in underpinning the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis. Yet, even Sewell and Haldane disagreed with his statistics. Then along comes electrophoreisis, and the identification of protein isomers, and lo and behold, the ‘Neutral Theory’ is born. And it was in reaction to the ‘molecular clock’ idea that ‘neutral mutations’ engendered, that Denton wrote his critique of Darwinism. (He was no ‘outsider’. But, he became an ‘outsider’.)

    Thus, Darwinism now hangs by a thread. It suffers from all kinds of internal contradictions, as did Ptolemy’s theory. The ‘Copernican Revolution’ took 100 years to come about. Hopefully it won’t take as long for Darwinism to be replaced–or at least brought down. And, of course, it’s going to take ‘outsiders’ to do just that. I, for one, am willing to wait.

  57. Here’s an example (taken from this months edition of ‘Nature Genetics’: From the Abstract: “Most notably, we identify a class of highly connected ‘hub’ genes: inactivation of these genes can enhance the phenotypic consequences of mutation of many different genes. These hub genes all encode chromatin regulators, and their activity as genetic hubs seems to be conserved across animals. We propose that these genes function as general buffers of genetic variation and that these hub genes may act as modifier genes in multiple, mechanistically unrelated genetic diseases in humans.”

    Biologists would say that these ‘hub genes’ were ‘conserved’ because of their importance to the organism. Fine. Good. Let us concede that point.

    But now it says that these very same ‘hub genes’ acta as “general buffers of genetic variation”! But ‘genetic variation’ is the very STUFF of “random mutations and natural selection”. So, what is being ‘conserved’–because it is so important!!–are ‘hub genes’ which LIMIT ‘genetic variation’ (roughly speaking, ‘mutations’, or genetic change). So, here you have an ‘internal contradiction’. This should be a red flag telling evolutionary biologists that something is wrong. But they’re simply blind to this.

    Additionally, if these ‘hub genes’ “act as modifier genes in multiple, mechanistically unrelated genetic diseases in humans”, then this is an indicator that genetics is, in reality, much more complicated than either Mendel, or Fisher–the architect of the NDS–ever imagined or dealt with mathematically. So what happens to NDE’s ‘Fisherian underpinnings’? Isn’t anybody bothered by this?

  58. Ofro,

    I asked others before for examples of how all these changes to the DNA you have listed have resulted in anything really new. I got a promise that someone would get back to me but that was it. What specific things can biology point to that are the result of the mechanisms you discuss? Are they just speculation or is there hard evidence that these things did happen and produced novelty? Here is part of your comment that is relevant.

    “Few non-biologists know that changes can occur on a much greater scale up to where whole segments of a chromosome can be lost, duplicated, turned around or swapped. They have probably never heard about transposable elements that help move segments of DNA around in the genome, or the modularity of an exon that, when swapped into another gene, gives rise to a new module within the encoded protein and thus new functionality in a single step. I wish that the ID proponents looked more closely at the marvel of evolutionary mechanisms.”

    We would love to look more closely at these marvelous mechanisms.

  59. Quoting ‘Ofro’ from jerry’s post (#59):“Few non-biologists know that changes can occur on a much greater scale up to where whole segments of a chromosome can be lost, duplicated, turned around or swapped. They have probably never heard about transposable elements that help move segments of DNA around in the genome, or the modularity of an exon that, when swapped into another gene, gives rise to a new module within the encoded protein and thus new functionality in a single step. I wish that the ID proponents looked more closely at the marvel of evolutionary mechanisms.”

    Well, I’ve heard of ‘recombination’, or transposons, and exhangeable ‘exons’. Yet, considering DNA as an “information system”, the question to be asked is: are we dealing with “new” information? We’re certainly dealing with “new positions”. Does that lead to “new phenotypes”? Again the answer is likely, “yes”. Yet no “new information” has been garnered; it’s only been ‘moved around’. And, of course, none of this corresponds to R.A. Fisher’s model for “natural selection”. So, again, there goes Neo-Darwinian Synthesis’ underpinnings.

    Finally, look at the language you are using, Ofro: “the modularity of an exon that, when swapped into another gene, gives rise to a new module within the encoded protein and thus new functionality in a single step.” When I read ‘modularity’, I immediately think ‘design’! That’s how engineers ‘design’ systems: with redundancy and modularity. In effect, your ‘evidence’ for Darwinism, to the unprejudiced viewer, is better interpreted as evidence for design, rather than support for RM+NS.

  60. Perpetual motion machines vs Perpetual Education.

    PLoS, PUBMed, Nature, ArXiv.org, InnovationsReport: http://www.innovations-report......php?show=2,
    Genetics Home References: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/, PNAS.org,
    Free,
    Open BioInformatics Foundation:
    http://news.open-bio.org/
    Atlas of Genetics…
    http://atlasgeneticsoncology.org/,
    Protein Data Bank: http://www.rcsb.org/pdb/Welcome.do
    an so on… with multiple open software tools

    that’s just a smidgeion of available resources online, easily available as reference and educational materials in both rote learning, memorization of terminology and hands on simulations for the building blocks of life.

    My last post was a parody, but true. No test for macroevolution has produced one new life form in the lab by the RM mechanism.
    Otherwise, its proponents here would churn out the list for all to see, TV and Print would be going gaga over it.

    OTOH, intelligent agency produces modified life forms consistently and with increased knowledge, consistently more complex modified life forms.

    As to lay people or or those darn outsiders, biology would come to a screeching halt without hard sciences to move it forward.

    Computational Biology, BioMimimicry, BioInformatics, Systems Biology, are all words which describe the inevitable future of understanding life forms as wonderfully complex living machines. Wonderfully Designed.

    Random mutations do not lead to increase of complex information which creates wholesale new life forms. This is a false postulate allowed to hang around for at least 20-30 years to long. The only reason the old guard hangs onto such outdated viewpoints is insecurity, blindess, and intentional, willing bias as so aptly described by Crick and and enforced by Dawkins to ignore the appearance of Design.

    The billions of years story does not get it. I could care less if the earth is a billion years old, or ostriches wings do not make sense for design. This does not refute what we see in the micro world of cellular technology within us and other living organisms.

    The post of a syllabus here recently shows how much reality is twisted with incorrect language and loose usage of words and their definitions.

    The syllabus started out stating: “macroevolution examples” and ended with a narrative form: “story”. There is no pointing to any lab evidence, none. The examples are all stories based upon historical evidence which can be debated ad nasuem.
    There are no current lab examples, therefore no current proof for macroevolution.

    The only thing I see happening is indocrtrination and putdowns by evolutionist.

    I may be a layperson in biology, but I achieved higher levels of comprehension in math and computers to understand higher principles of logic and scientific methodology. I regularly read journals of scientific discourse on philosophy and logic. But even at the highest levels of science, there is much bravado and braggadicio by all proponents with much hubris aimed at the lay person. Elitist seem to think quoting certain precepts or relying on ancient greats is some form of mastery over a subject. But what I see is a lack of common sense and disregard of blatant truths staring one in the face. An atheist can and many times does bring as much baggage as a fundamental “religionist” from any worldview.

    In fact, not sure about everyone else, but we learned about the concept of scientific methods starting in 7th grade – so its not some secret way – biology or science creed. Its fundamental and it carries over to real life practical proof of concepts in the commerical world. Good science produces good work and practical real world production for the improvement of life.

    I once has a CEO of a genetics company argue with me that the millions his company spent in random mutational changes was science. Maybe it is, but its wasteful science. His company will eventually be overrun by others if he continues down such a wasteful path. Truth is already laying this wasteful concept into the trashbin as more and more research utilizing algorithms are shredding the amount of time required for large search spaces to produce real results. When one utilizes intelligence they inevitably find it works better in unlocking DNA. Meanwhile, one can always do an entire search – it just proves scientist still do not know whats going on and use large inefficient searches to brute force and blindly produce products.

    Evolutionist hardly follow scientific standards in their continued highly speculative narratives. Its quite appalling at what evolutionist get away with as science. I accepted this in my youth, with public education because that was all I was taught, indoctrinated on multiple levels.

    I think the opposite is true of lay people who get it on an instinctual level. The more informed I become on the subject, the less pleased and less impressed I am with evolutions mechanisms to account for life on this earth as we know it today.

    Dave Scot was right in labeling much of Biology as “Stamp Collecting”. It amounts to librarian like functions, utilizing categories no better than current Dewey Decimal system. The problem is the tree changes with every new discovery, or with every removal of false discovery.

    Yet talking heads on TV never report these failures.

    Fossil collectors rush to judgement, the uninformed journalist throws out sensationalist headlines all in the name of science on the front page for everyone to see. Truth is later published that it was neither a missing link, nor a rare find, but this truth is printed on page 28 hidden amongt the obituaries where some of the initial evolutionist claims belong – DOA.

    There are extremist in both camps. Trouble is, media only recognizes it in one. Therefore, Dawkins and his ilk run loose amongst the public making grandiose claims that are unproven by science. Along with evolutionary science, they make miraculous explanations for anything from transgender sex to orgies and why we behave like the famous Bonobos. Wild predictions are made; “the Bonobo will revolutionize evolution 20 years from now”, Dr Waals said. Yet eight years after this bold prediction, the Bonobo has done little to infuse our knowledge of why daffodils exist and men collect them for the women in their lives.

    Its all speculation, narratives of fictional accounts of what might have been. And this is precisely what is wrong with evolutionist. They overstep their boundaries into every area of society, being priest of science, instructing everyone on our current behavior, what is natural and acceptable to the limit they override any parent. Orgies, same sex, rape, etc., is all part of the human condition because we came from the ancient line of hominids which broke off from chimps 5my ago – and oh yes, because Bonobos and Chimps act that way – it explains our behavior. Therefore, don’t worry about yours – its natural.

    This is scientism, naturalism and materialism taken to its utter absurd reality. Where without any practical scientific proof of concept, tested in the lab, failure after failure – this evolutionist dogma still claims superiority. Whereas Physics and Math gets us to Mars, evolutionist tell our children we rape because of our past as monkeys.

    This is absurd. So plainly, evolutionist need to stop complaining about outsiders – as they infringe upon our every day lives. They tell people only science can say why we behave the way we do, yet they cannot begin to undertand their own faults and frailties.

    The example about Perpetual Motion machines is a pot shot, an insult and not in the same realm as the Perpetual Motion Myths of Evolution forced down public education throats.

    Definitions, terminology, acronyms and minute details does not make one person smarter, just more informed on a subject. You can drill down into a topic all you want, but many times be just as lost as the general public which follows your exhortations. While it may lead to somewhat better judgement of some facts, it certainly cannot insure the quality of overall understanding in that scientific field, nor discernment of truth. As the rush to prove ones own beliefs can be so overwhelming as to ignore the facts observed which may lead in direct opposition to original findings.

    It leads evolutionist to make claims they cannot reproduce in the lab and never will.

    If evolution is true – it should be reproduced, repeated and easily constructed upon basic scientific models. You should be able to take any species, Random Mutate it into another and another and another until you have – voila – Homo Sapien, the crowning achievement of a blind and unguided process.

    You should be able to take a fish, Random Mutate it over generations into a tetrapod. That’s the challenge of evolutionist. The Fruit Fly experiments were utter failures.

    OTOH – Intelligent Designers only need to learn the programming instructions to produce new life forms once. They can then take that knowledge and transfer it to design other new life forms.

    And therein lies the problem for evolution. It must reproduce everything we see by one single approach – RM. They cannot Design any new life form. They must reproduce new life forms by Random Mutations.

    Whereas ID only need to succeed in reverse engineering what we observe to be true in the DNA code of life, then applying that from one species to the next. IDist can apply intelligent agency to new creations. They can take the increase of knowledge from each species and apply directly to other new forms.

    Natural Selection enters the equation for both.

    By the time evolutionist succeed in random mutations creating any kind of new life form from a fish – IDist will have created millions of new life forms. Why? Because, intelligence guides design of new forms on a much faster pace than random creation.

    And Design is proven in clinical test and commercial products.

    Not sure how often I should keep posting this, but a human bladder has been recreated in less than 6 weeks, clincally tested and surgically implanted in the original human donor of the bladder cells. These clinical test carried out at WFUBMC Dr. Atala will pursue this “tissue engineering program” for 20 other organs.

    This process will only speed up in the future.

    Diamonds designed so close to the original as to make Debeers Inc. shake have now been reproduced in 4 days. Geologist should be questioning why? And what does this mean for timescales in the future for all gemstones as well as any material process.

    Whether it is organic life forms or inorganic processes, our knowledge is showing Design wins the new direction and establishes a new Paradigm of science reality.

    The challenge remains to evolutionist: Provide Lab Test that will reproduce new life forms utilizing Random Mutations as the mechanism which can then be repeated for all new life forms.

    The challenge to ID remains that it must Design new life forms based upon reengineering of coded processes.

    Anyone who looks forwards instead of looking backwards understands immediately why Random Mutations will not suffice in this science battle of the 21st century.

  61. 60. PaV said:
    “Yet, considering DNA as an “information system”, the question to be asked is: are we dealing with “new” information? We’re certainly dealing with “new positions”. Does that lead to “new phenotypes”? Again the answer is likely, “yes”. Yet no “new information” has been garnered; it’s only been ‘moved around’.”

    I can’t help coming back to the original question of this discussion string about how much “outsiders” can contribute to biology. As I mentioned before, I invite the outsider to bring in fresh thinking, but I also expect him/her to do the homework of studying the system. You are introducing the concept of information into this discussion, but how strict are you with that concept? I believe that I am correct in presume that in the realm of ID the information in the DNA sequence that you are talking about is equivalent to a program that determines how the organism looks like. It is also my understanding that the deterministic nature of a program (unless some form of random generator routine were included) requires that no matter how often you run it, it will give you the same result. But here you question whether a rearrangement of DNA represents a different information content. If a rearrangement of a DNA sequence (“the program”) results in an altered phenotype (“the output”), do I not have to conclude that the program and therefore the initial information has been changed?

    Another question: how large does this piece of rearranged DNA have to be before it is no longer the same piece moved around but new information? Let’s make it shorter and shorter. In the extreme case, we can construct a case in which two point mutations (they don’t have to happen at the same time) result in “exchanging” nucleotide A in position x with nucleotide G in position y. According to what you stated above (be consistent!), this rearrangement is not new information. However, even such a small change, for example when occurring in a gene’s promoter region or at an intron-exon junction, can have strong phenotypic consequences. I say that the information has changed and had a structural consequence. How many changes, whether on the single nucleotide level or on the level of chromosomal rearrangement are necessary to result in changes that are more significant than “mere” changes in beak shape? Lots. But then nature also had lots of time. Think, as an example, of cats and dogs, which supposedly are derived from a common ancestor carnivore by more than micro-evolution. I know, you’ll say that this is different from changing a bacterium into a dog, but then there is also quite a difference in time frame.

  62. 60. PaV said:
    “Finally, look at the language you are using, Ofro: “the modularity of an exon that, when swapped into another gene, gives rise to a new module within the encoded protein and thus new functionality in a single step.” When I read ‘modularity’, I immediately think ‘design’! That’s how engineers ‘design’ systems: with redundancy and modularity.”

    I deliberately chose this language to make people think “design.” What I am trying to do is to think about design on a grander level. There appears to be quite some heterogeneity among ID advocates about the extent of evolutionary mechanisms should be “permitted.” Is there design on the level of a genus, or only at the level of a phylum, with the fine-tuning down to the species occurring by “change in time”? What is wrong with seeing the design at a much earlier time, maybe even at the time the first functioning proto-organism came about? I may not subscribe to it, but in my mind a fully purposeful nature of evolution could already be present at this stage through what I see as the marvelous mechanism through which today’s creatures were formed. (Oops, I didn’t mean to, but upon reading this again, did I sound like Ken Miller?)

  63. PaV,

    “Thus, Darwinism now hangs by a thread. It suffers from all kinds of internal contradictions, as did Ptolemy’s theory. The ‘Copernican Revolution’ took 100 years to come about. Hopefully it won’t take as long for Darwinism to be replaced–or at least brought down.”

    Did you know that physics is fighting for dear life, too? It suffers from the contradictions of quantum and Einsteinian mechanics. Its best attempt at reconciling the two is string theory — five conflicting versions of string theory, actually, none of which is testable. What a mess! So what do we teach high school students in physics? The Newtonian mechanics shown “false” by Einstein.

    Shouldn’t we chuck both quantum theory and Einsteinian theory? Don’t they falsify one another? Of course, each theory explains many phenomena, no matter the contradictions. And each theory has led to very successful lines of research, irrespective of whether it is “true” or not. In short, each theory has utility.

    Biological research within the neo-Darwinian paradigm is incredibly successful at present, whether the paradigm is “true” or not. The paradigm is an aspect of the culture of life scientists, and it is theirs alone to keep or to replace. Other scientists may persuade life scientists to change how they think about their work, but they cannot force cultural change on them.

    In the writings of ID proponents, I see virtually nothing in the way of persuasion. This makes me particularly interested in your statement that neo-Darwinism should be “at least brought down.” You do not specify an agent that does the bringing down. Is there any way to force cultural change on a society of scientists but through political action? There is a precedent for that, and it is an ugly one. The Soviet Union replaced genetics with Lysenkoism (see Wikipedia).

  64. Michaels7: “It leads evolutionist to make claims they cannot reproduce in the lab and never will.”

    Hmm. What about astrophysics?

  65. Tom English,

    The answer is to admit the problem with physics to the general public, students and to the scientific community. Teach each theory as explaining part of the cosmos but not the whole and that there is a search for a better explanation. Similarly, admit the problem with evolution to the general public, students and to the scientific community. Teach competing theories as explaining part of the history of life but not the whole and that there is a search for a better explanation.

    Simple solution.

  66. 67

    Why do I waste my time? Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  67. John Davison: you waste your time because deep, deep down, in that part of you which you refuse to admit even exists (your free will, derived from your spirit) you think you can change what is, according to your stated philosophy, completely predetermined.

  68. Michaels7: “It leads evolutionist to make claims they cannot reproduce in the lab and never will.”

    Hmm. What about astrophysics?

    Hi Tom,

    Like FermiLab? Or CERN? or any of NASA’s missions like GLAST? http://www.batse.msfc.nasa.gov/gbm/

    I deduce by your answer that you agree with the copied statement re: macroevolutions failed lab work.

    Thus in defense of macroevolution’s experimental failures you’re attempting to redirect and project the same weakness onto other areas of science.

    Plus, I’m not aware of any court cases that enforce particular beliefs of astrophysics by judicial tyranny against the will of the people.

  69. 70

    post 68 by tinabrewer

    Sorry tina that won’t wash. We are all but victims. If there were a free will, internet forums would not exist. Incontravertible evidence would render debate quite impossible. Absolute unvarnished truth needs only to be revealed. That is what science is all about.

    “Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty.”
    Galileo

    Darwinian mysticism is the cloak that has hidden the truth about evolution.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  70. Tom English: “Shouldn’t we chuck both quantum theory and Einsteinian theory? Don’t they falsify one another? Of course, each theory explains many phenomena, no matter the contradictions. And each theory has led to very successful lines of research, irrespective of whether it is “true” or not. In short, each theory has utility.”

    Tom, I study physics as well. It’s very hard to compare General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics to Darwinism for many reasons. One reason is that QM and GR can be ‘put to the test’ at will, whereas, in reference to Macroevolution, this simply cannot be done. A second reason flows from the first; namely, that since GR and QM can, and are, tested against observables, both in the lab and that ‘lab’ which is the universe, and continue to be re-affirmed. So what reason would there be to NOT teach them. Without them, we become scientifically impoverished. Yet, take away Darwinism and science is in no way impoverished. We would know just as much before as after. Science in laboratories would continue on the same as before. And, yet, no one is exactly talking about abolishing Darwin from the classroom. They’re talking about “criticizing” it; they’re talking about demonstrating the strong arguments that exist (which Darwin hands us on a silver platter in “The Origins”) for overturning Darwinism.

    Say what you want about GR and QM; no one is going to call them a “myth”. Yet many biologists have called it that. So I think it just doesn’t do to want to compare the problems that modern physics faces with that of simply criticizing Darwinism.

    “Biological research within the neo-Darwinian paradigm is incredibly successful at present, whether the paradigm is “true” or not. The paradigm is an aspect of the culture of life scientists, and it is theirs alone to keep or to replace. Other scientists may persuade life scientists to change how they think about their work, but they cannot force cultural change on them.”

    Well, I don’t disagree with too much of what you say here. Boys will be boys. (Maybe the ‘girls’ that are coming along in the field will help matters!). Yet, “biological research within the neo-Darwinian paradigm is incredibly successful at present” not because of the Darwinian paradigm, but despite it. Science will ultimately find the ‘final’ answers (though they might not be complete!)to much of the questions in biology; but it will certainly do so at an amazingly slower pace it it coninues to hold onto a dilapidated notion of its true mechanisms.

    Ofro: I’ve read quickly over your comments. I’m just not in a position to post now.

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